Can You File a Maryland Medical Malpractice Claim for Vocal Cord Paralysis?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on January 19, 2024 and updated on February 7, 2024.

doctor intubating a dummyVocal cord paralysis takes away a victim’s ability to speak, which has devastating consequences for their personal and professional lives. While this injury can have various causes, sometimes it results from medical malpractice. For example, medical malpractice during certain types of surgeries could paralyze the vocal cords.

If you are dealing with vocal cord paralysis and you have reason to believe it was caused by medical malpractice, contact our firm to learn if you may have legal options. Our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers have secured millions on behalf of injured victims in Maryland, and we represent clients at no upfront cost.

The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl. Schedule a free consultation. Phone: 410-297-0271.

Defining Vocal Cord Paralysis?

Vocal cord paralysis is also called vocal fold paralysis. This is a condition that prevents your vocal fold from opening or closing normally.

Your vocal fold consists of two muscle flaps above the trachea and inside of your larynx. These flaps vibrate as air goes through them. However, when these flaps are paralyzed, they do not vibrate, which can impair speech or take it away altogether.

What Are the Consequences of Vocal Cord Paralysis?

Some people who suffer vocal cord paralysis are left with a raspy voice – their speech sounds labored and difficult. Some victims can only manage to whisper, and even that is difficult.

Some victims also struggle to breathe, as taking in air is uncomfortable. Another problem with vocal cord paralysis is that the windpipe remains open. This can allow food or water to get into the windpipe, instead of where it is supposed to go. This makes it difficult to swallow food or water, which could be life-threatening, as victims could choke on food. In some situations, victims may need an emergency tracheotomy to save their life.

Being unable to speak or having a difficult time speaking can affect victims professionally and socially. They might not be able to work in the same job as before because it requires more talking than they are able to do.

There can also be a significant loss of quality of life, as victims may not be able to engage with their family and friends the way they used to.

How Does Vocal Cord Paralysis Occur?

Vocal cord paralysis results from nerve damage. This type of nerve damage can be caused by many things, including:

Surgical Nerve Damage

There is a risk of vocal cord damage during surgery that involves the:

  • Thyroid
  • Esophagus
  • Neck
  • Chest

There are many ways your vocal cords could get damaged during thyroid surgery. For example, if doctors are not careful with the breathing tube, they could damage your vocal cords when inserting or removing the tube. Breathing tubes can also weaken the vocal nerves.

Surgery on the thyroid could bruise or cut the vocal nerve. This could be exacerbated by preexisting problems with your vocal nerves.

Trauma to the Neck or Chest

If you suffer blunt force trauma to the neck or chest, your vocal nerves could suffer serious damage. This could happen in an auto accident.

Cancerous Tumors

Sometimes the vocal cords are damaged because of the growth of a cancerous tumor in the thyroid or elsewhere in your neck or throat. As the tumor grows, it can damage the nerves.


Sometimes vocal cord paralysis is a result of an infection from a virus or bacteria, such as Lyme disease, Epstein-Barr or herpes. This could happen after a surgical procedure or if doctors used unsanitary breathing tubes or other contaminated instruments.

Treatment for Vocal Cord Paralysis

Many people affected by vocal cord paralysis need surgery to repair the damage. For example, doctors may need to insert structural implants to allow the muscle flap to function as it should. There is also a procedure to move tissue from another part of the voice box.

Some patients may be able to resolve the problem through voice therapy. Patients learn how to relieve tension on the muscle flap.

Another option is a bulk injection of collagen, body fat or a synthetic substance to add mass to the paralyzed flap. This helps move the paralyzed flap close to the other flap that still works.

Can Victims of Vocal Cord Paralysis File Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?

Whether victims of vocal cord paralysis can file a medical malpractice lawsuit depends on certain factors. The question is: Did doctors provide care that met accepted medical standards? If they failed to uphold the standard of care during your treatment, there may be a case for medical malpractice.

If you had surgery and you are experiencing symptoms of vocal cord paralysis, you may want to talk to a lawyer. If symptoms of vocal cord damage have lasted longer than doctors expected and they do not seem to be improving, it may be because of medical malpractice during surgery.

If you did not have problems with speech before your symptoms started, it could indicate that something went wrong during treatment. However, medical malpractice claims are about much more than something going wrong during treatment. You must prove doctors had a legal obligation to do things differently than they were done during the procedure.

Contact Our Experienced Law Firm To Discuss Possible Legal Options

Medical malpractice can cause life-changing injuries that victims may never fully recover from. Unfortunately, it is difficult for victims to know if they may have a valid case.

That is why victims should contact an experienced law firm that has a history of success with these types of cases. The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl has been helping medical malpractice victims for many years, and we know how to determine when there may be a case. We also have the resources necessary to build a strong case.

Call today. There are no upfront costs. Phone: 410-297-0271.